Winter brings cold temperatures and lots of snow.
But it also brings the Holidays, hot chocolate, and winter events, like Winterfest.
If you've never been to Winterfest, you're missing out on days of fun ice and winter activities.
And if you're a part of a Winterfest committee, you know that ice skating is a must-have attraction.
Planning and installing a rink that accommodates hundreds, if not thousands, of people is no small task.
It's all about choosing the best Winterfest ice rink for 2022 participants.
What is a Winterfest?
Winterfest is a multi-day festival held in different cities across North America.
Winter festivals aren't new.
Some of the first events were held in Minnesota in 1886 and in places like Montreal, Canada.
Despite the state's prosperity, people were still turned off by its harsh winters.
The Saint Paul festival was an ingenious way to have fun events while marketing the state's beauty.
Ice castles, sculptures, sledding, and ice skating evolved into one of the more popular events of that time.
Soon, other states started winter events, eventually becoming 'Winterfests.'
Today, almost all Winterfests are held by Communities, Carnivals, and County Fairs.
It's a way for them to stay open throughout the year, transforming the space into a Winter Wonderland that creates a lot of foot traffic.
Some Winterfests run for select days during the entire season.
Others are a few full days of fun.
Most focus on Holiday themes with competitions that combine ice with the things unique to that county, town, or state.
Winterfest attracts thousands of visitors to many small towns and is a huge revenue source.
Some of the popular Winterfest programs include Oregon's Winterfest,
Winterfest at Canada's Wonderland, Cedar Fair Amusement Parks, Winterfest in Pennsylvania, and much more.
Now, you can find some form of Winterfest in almost every state and province in Canada and the US.
What should you expect at a Winterfest?
It's everything you love about the Holidays and winter all in one space.
- Fantastic music and live entertainment
- Great food (Gingerbread, eggnog, and Christmas-themed funnel cakes, anyone?)
- Holiday-themed games and attractions
- Tree-lighting ceremonies
- Competitions based on local traditions
- Carnival rides (if weather permits)
- Sledding, tobogganing, curling, and of course, ice skating
Vendors, businesspeople, and other stakeholders set up shops and booths, all coordinated and managed by the owners of the county fair, amusement park, or community.
The Best Winterfest Ice Rinks For 2022
An ice skating rink in Winterfest is non-negotiable.
It's often a centerpiece of the event, surrounded by tall, beautiful pine trees, lights, and holiday decorations.
Ice rinks are in high demand during Winterfests, so skaters must book time in advance.
They pay a cover charge for a short time on the rink (about 30 minutes) and extra for skate rentals.
Hundreds of people may visit the rink each day during some Winterfests, with some staying for hours.
Ice rinks should be large enough to accommodate multiple skaters at the same time.
If you're in charge of setting up a rink for Winterfest, the type of rink is a vital step in the process.
Here are some of the surfaces you should consider.
These are the best Winterfest ice rink surfaces for 2022:
Natural ice rinks
The original ice rinks in cold climates came from a body of frozen water thanks to the surrounding ambient temperature.
The water remains frozen, and we can have our ice-skating fun on the surface.
Today, this process can be duplicated in an outdoor space.
First, you'll need to prepare a flat surface to accommodate the liner.
Once the liner and rink walls are set, you will need water – sometimes well over 5,000 gallons – to fill the space a couple of inches high.
The cold weather that's common during Winterfest freezes the water, creating an ice rink.
You will need to resurface the rink periodically to clear shavings and buildup from snow and rain.
Refrigerated ice rinks
Refrigerated ice rinks use water and a refrigeration process to keep water frozen in almost any climate.
Refrigerated ice can be set up indoors and outdoors and can withstand most temperatures.
The rinks start with a flat surface made of concrete or compact sand.
Pipes are placed on the surface, and a coolant or brine water flows through constantly being pumped through a large chiller.
This keeps the base at a set temperature, freezing any water applied to the surface.
From there, you apply layers of water – sometimes over 10,000 gallons – to create the frozen surface.
Refrigerated ice rinks use machines for the coolant and to keep the rink frozen at a consistent temperature.
Synthetic ice rinks
If you're looking for a water-free way to ice skate, synthetic ice may be the answer.
This option is growing in popularity, with more synthetic ice rinks popping up around the country.
Synthetic ice is made of polyethylene, a strong plastic designed for using metal blades for skating.
Each piece is called a tile or panel, cut at a specific square foot based on its size and weight.
Multiple pieces are connected like puzzle pieces to form a large, skateable surface.
Synthetic ice is appealing because of its ease of installation, durability, cost, and use in any space or climate.
Others need the agents to be sprayed and reapplied periodically.
Both tend to have slightly more friction than natural and artificial ice.
However, most skaters are recreational and just love the experience of skating on an artificial surface if they never tried it before.
Synthetic ice rinks can come in multiple colors and shapes, making rink builders more creative.
It's important for buyers to do their research prior to purchasing an artificial ice rink as some surfaces may not stand up to the skating traffic at Winterfest.
Synthetic ice curling rinks are the ideal interactive Winterfest attraction for people of all ages that like a little competitive fun.
It provides a lower entry cost with regard to the overall budget and has been growing in popularity over the last few years.
Winterfest planners can schedule league games if the event is planned for multiple weeks or months throughout the Holiday season.
It's also a great add-on to attraction to event planners that are looking to add some new fun and excitement to their annual Winterfest activities.
Which rink should you choose?
You must consider location, budget, weather, and traffic for rink setup.
Some towns or states have perfect weather for natural ice rinks.
They have a tradition of freezing a particular space, so natural ice rinks are the best bet.
Larger spaces that cannot depend on the weather have the option of refrigerated and synthetic ice.
Refrigerated ice requires the set up of the location and several thousand gallons of water and along with the additional electrical cost of running the chillers.
There are refrigerated ice rink rental companies that will help with setup.
Synthetic ice is cheaper, so the committee can focus on decorating and designing.
Like refrigerated ice, you can rent or purchase these rinks, reducing the space's cost.
Synthetic ice rinks are trending more and more as an option for Holiday Events for both its affordability and for providing a green energy solution for ice skating.
Here's how to maximize your investment
Rinks aren't just at your local Winterfest for guests to enjoy.
They are also opportunities to generate income for the organizers of the event.
Thousands of people look forward to ice rinks, but there are still ways to maximize your investment.
Here are some examples:
- Set a day pass or season pass for your rink. Some groups want to skate at any time without the hassle of booking and paying every time.
- Guests can bring their skates, but most have not been maintained for years. Charge for skate sharpening services.
- Have a volunteer who can teach kids a 30-minute skating crash course. Charge for the service.
- An ice show can bring extra income through merchandising.
With an ice rink, the possibilities are endless.
Set up your next Winterfest ice rink
Preparing for Winterfest can be stressful yet challenging.
Adding an ice rink is one of the most significant projects but one of the most rewarding.
The type of ice rink matters as it affects cost, performance, and durability.
While natural ice rinks may be effective in some spaces, others that can't depend on weather will benefit from synthetic ice.
Are you thinking about a long-term rink rental?
Or maybe it's time to invest in your rink to use year-round.
If you are interested in a quick quote to get an overall idea of what a synthetic ice rink surface may cost to invest in for your event simply >CLICK HERE<